Shenandoah alumnus Trey Kunz ’14, DPT, keeps NFL players healthy as a performance physical therapist (PT) for the Philadelphia Eagles. Since graduating from Shenandoah with a dual Doctor of Physical Therapy/Master of Science in Athletic Training, Kunz has built an impressive resume. We caught up with him to ask a few questions about this phase of his career and how his Shenandoah education has helped him progress.
How did you end up connecting with the Eagles?
TK: Prior to coming on with the Eagles, I served as the director of rehab for the University of Washington. Through this role I was able to meet and network with a variety of health care and performance practitioners. I happened to meet an individual who worked for the Eagles organization; we stayed in touch and collaborated on certain cases throughout the football season last year, and the team reached out to me this summer for an interview. I was able to fly to Philadelphia and meet with their staff, got offered this position, and moved out here [Philadelphia] just before the start of training camp.
What do you do as a performance physical therapist?
TK: My position as a performance PT is primarily focused on the care and return of athletes that have injuries that will keep them off the field for an extended period of time. I still have some day-to-day responsibilities, such as getting players ready for practice and handling acute injuries, but my main focus is overseeing long-term care and making sure that our players are working towards return in a safe and efficient manner. This includes working towards players being able to pass certain return-to-practice and return-to-competition measures, working with our nutrition staff to make sure the appropriate dietary changes are made, and working with our strength staff to make the appropriate modifications and keep the players on track.
What is the most rewarding part of the job?
TK: I think working in any setting, regardless of who you are working with, getting to know your patients or athletes or clients and build relationships is the best part. Being in the locker room after a big win isn’t so bad either.
How is working in the NFL different than your previous physical therapy work?
TK: Since graduating from Shenandoah, all of my work experience has been either in a team setting or in an outpatient setting dealing with a mostly athletic population, so working with athletes is pretty familiar for me. We have a diverse staff here in regard to the skill sets within the training staff, strength staff, and sports science staff, so we have the opportunity to collaborate between these three areas and make sure that the players here get the highest quality care and nothing is overlooked. The Eagles organization is very committed to the care of the players, so we have access to some cool resources that help us objectify our return measures along the way when reintegrating a player from injury that may not be available in other places.
How well do you feel like Shenandoah’s program prepared you for your profession and your current position?
TK: I am very thankful for the education I got while at Shenandoah. I think that the curriculum we had, not just in terms of the actual material, but also the importance that was placed on being a critical thinker and continual learner, as well as the options available for us when selecting our sites for clinical rotations, played a major part in helping me eventually get this position.